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Autorenbibliotheken: Erschließung, Rekonstruktion, Wissensordnung. Bibliothek und Wissenschaft 48

Autorenbibliotheken: Erschließung, Rekonstruktion, Wissensordnung. Bibliothek und Wissenschaft 48 (2015). 198p., ill. ISBN 9783447103404. €99.00 (paperback).

Author’s libraries gained increasing interest in recent scholarship. The 2015 issue of Bibliothek und Wissenschaft is devoted to the subject, and the six contributions to the journal study author’s libraries with a regional focus on Germany and Switzerland during the late early modern period and the Age of Enlightenment. An interview with the contemporary writer Péter Esterházy opens the collection of studies and provides insight into the ways in which authors use, collect and arrange their books.

Ivonne Rohmann’s contribution deals with the possibilities of reconstructing author’s libraries. Rohmann has chosen a set of interesting examples for her study. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s library is practically complete, and the significance of the poet, as well as his ability to provide for the keeping of the library financially, has made it an outstanding example for an author’s library. Reconstructing the libraries of Johann Gottfried Herder and Christoph Martin Wieland proves considerably harder, given that their book collections were sold almost immediately after the death of the authors. Rohmann demonstrates how their contents can be traced today through the use of auction catalogues and inventories, as well as through searching in academic libraries.

Goethe’s reading habits have been well studied already, and in her contribution to the journal Kirsten Krumeich turns her attention to the borrowing of books belonging to the German author. Goethe also served as head librarian of the library and Krumeich traces how he controlled the acquisition of new books for the public library in accordance with the holdings of his own library so as to avoid unnecessary expenditures. The borrowing records also reveal that Goethe took out books for his friends and acquaintances and provided them with volumes that were normally meant for consultation in the library only.

Michael Knoche and Dietrich Hakelberg discuss in their articles two lesser-known German librarians and spiritualists, one from the seventeenth century and the other from the nineteenth. Reinhold Köhler ranks amongst the most important German librarians with a strong scholarly interest. During his appointment as librarian at the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel, Köhler amassed a library of over 6,000 editions of international works on fairy tales and related secondary sources. His library, Knoche argues, conveys the image of a scholar who wished to register all aspects of a field of investigation, a scholar who moreover had the aspiration to read everything he collected. Dietrich Hakelberg studies the library of Benedict Bahnsen, a German spiritualists and émigré to the Netherlands, based on a surviving auction catalogue and remainders of his library now kept in Wolfenbüttel. In his work, Hakelberg proves that Bahnsen, who became active as publisher in the early 1660s, took a cue for his publishing programme from his own library.

In the final article, Magnus Wieland summarises studies on the ways in which Friedrich Dürrenmatt has used the works in his library. Through this, he introduces a way of conceptualising different forms of marginalia based on the purpose that they serve for the author.

Methodologically, the articles use the entire toolkit of how to research author’s libraries, relying on, for example, indexes, auction catalogues, borrowing lists and publishing programmes. Taken together, the volume presents a well-selected range of approaches with which to consider author’s libraries. Both in terms of their scope as well as their theoretical perspective, these articles further our understanding of author’s libraries in the German-speaking context.

Jan Hillgaertner
University of St. Andrews

Published inBook review

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